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Photo credit: Ultimatedirection.com

Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta review

28-Jul-16

Last updated: 24-Oct-18

By Alice Morrison

The Ultra Vesta is part of Ultimate Direction’s Jenny Collection which is designed by women for women under the aegis of lead designer Jenny Jurek. Like a lot of women, I struggle to find the perfect back pack/hydration pack because they are mainly designed for men who obviously have broader shoulders, wider backs and flatter chests. I also run in hot climates a lot of the time as I am based in Marrakech so I was really interested to try this vest out.

FEATURES

FRONT

  • Bottle holsters compatible with Body Bottle and Body Bottle Plus soft flasks
  • Front storage holds phone, gels/bars, and valuables
  • 2x Sliding rail sternum straps
  • Emergency Whistle

SIDE

  • Adjustable straps allow for customized fit

BACK

  • AirWall Mesh wicks away moisture and is soft to the touch
  • Two vertical zippered pockets in the rear, plus a third horizontal pocket offers ample storage
  • A mesh pouch for wet or voluminous gear, with a compression bungee
  • 1.5 litre reservoir compatible
  • 1x Ice axe loop
  • Trekking pole loops
  • External and internal bungee cords stabilize varying capacities
  • Reflective accents for easy visability

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Volume Capacity: 7.2L / 439 in3
  • Fluid Capacity: 2 x 500ml soft flask bottles (included)
  • Compatible with a 1l or 1.5l bladder / reservoir (not included)
  • Weight: 8.6 oz. (11.06 oz. with bottles) / 246 g (316 g with bottles)
  • Dimensions (XS/SM): 7.9 x 9.4 x 5.7 in. / 20 x 24 x 14.5 cm
  • Dimensions (M/L): 11.8 x 9.4 x 5.7 in / 30 x 24 x 14.5 cm

PROS: What’s good about the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta

The biggest plus for me was that it fits like a dream. I had the m/l version. It sits quite high up and the cutaway of the straps allow for completely free arm movement with no rubbing. I would say I have average sized women’s shoulders and normally with a man’s pack, I find that it slips off, but the Hydra Vest is cut absolutely perfectly and the straps stay in place.

There is no bounce. Internal and external bungees give it balance and you can adjust them. Also, there are two chest straps.

The mesh back lets the air circulate so I kept relatively cool.

The soft bottles are great for carrying/storage when you are not using the bag and I liked them in the bag itself. I was concerned that they might slip down into the pocket as they emptied, but if you position them properly and tighten the cord that is really not a problem.

Give that it is a minimal-style vest, there is actually loads of storage for extra kit and food. I managed to fit in a light waterproof, a slightly thicker jacket, a couple of bars ... and the kitchen sink (ok, I am joking about that bit).

There are loops for an ice axe and poles which are really handy although I didn’t try out the ice axe and suspect it would be a tad heavy for the bag.

There is a fine array of pockets: two at the front, one with a zip and one that you can stuff a bar into; as well as the main one on the back, you have two that are waterproof and open up at the side. A very nice little feature, was a hairband on the inside of the top one - I always forget mine. There was also a key ring.

CONS: What’s not so good about the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta

The bottles are high up but without straws you still have to bend down or push them up to have a drink. This was not a major problem but I think I may buy a couple of lids with straws just to make it easier.

My main negative about the pack was that they do not supply a bladder with it. I find that there is enough water for an hour (in the desert) – two hour (in the UK) run but anything longer than that, I would definitely need to use a bladder.

The little clip at the top of the bungee crossing the back came off when I was putting in my poles, so I ended up knotting them.

CONCLUSION

This is a very well-designed pack that does an excellent job. I found it a great fit and good to wear. In fact, once you put it on you can basically forget about it, which is exactly what you want. I could tell that it was designed for women by women as all the things that can be difficult with unisex bags were resolved. It has plenty of space for kit and food. Definitely one I would recommend to my female running friends.

Score  
Design 9/10
Features 9/10
Performance 9/10
Value 8/10
Total 8.75/10


Other packs you may want to consider:

OMM Ultra 15
Inov-8 Race Ultra 5
Inov-8 Race Ultra 10
Salomon Advanced Skin 12
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Osprey Rev 18

All images unless stated: Alice Morrison.

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